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"Le monde entier se créolise"

[The world is in the process of creolization / El mundo entero se está criollizando]

- Édouard Glissant (1990)

There are many different versions of the Atlantic. Our personal relationship to the ocean; the felt experience of standing at the edge of a seemingly limitless body of water; is a world apart from the geopolitical understanding of the Atlantic that has come to define the contemporary global order. Until recently, the North Atlantic matrix of power, generally referred to as the West, has held dominion over this version of reality; ever since Europeans first landed in the 'New World', imposing their master narrative of modernity and Enlightenment reason hand-in-hand with a colonial-settler logic of enslavement, extraction and genocide. In the wake of the ensuing transatlantic slave trade, a new transcontinental Black Atlantic culture has emerged, described by Paul Gilroy as “not specifically African, American, Caribbean or [European], but all of these at once”, transcending ethnicity and nationality to embody a hybrid counterculture of modernity. At the same time, with the rise of decolonisation movements around the world, many in the Global South have embarked upon a radical process of de-linking their own narratives of modernity, dismantling the Western apparatus of a supposedly ‘universal’ knowledge that excluded any worldview other than a Eurocentric projection. The former subalterns of colonialism refuse any longer to be defined by the British Atlantic, the French Atlantic, the Spanish Atlantic, the Portuguese Atlantic, the Dutch Atlantic. In contesting the totalising claims and epistemic violence of North Atlantic modernity, the pluriversalism of the South also puts into question the temporalities and relationalities which have defined Western culture. In their place, new forms of knowledge are required, and with them new forms of subjectivity and new ways of imagining the future.

Atlantica is envisaged as a recurring pan-Atlantic festival of contemporary art and critical enquiry. Working with artists, curators, musicians, writers and communities, Atlantica aims to re-examine the multiple histories and ‘historical presents’ of the Atlantic from diverse contemporary perspectives, challenging Eurocentric hierarchies of knowledge and engaging with different possible worlds-in-making. Starting from local, place-based cultural enquiry, each edition will co-create transnational dialogues between communities of shared interest; place to place, and people to people; generating distinctive new versions of the Atlantic and, in the process, re-telling ‘stories of place’ so as to overcome barriers to social justice, wellbeing and sustainability.